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Overview

Brief Summary

Wild Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) is a tall, stout, herbaceous plant with a long (up to 1.5 m), thick taproot (Gleason and Cronquist 1991). Parsnip is native to Eurasia between the western Mediterranean region and the Caucasus Mountains. It now grows wild throughout southern and central Europe and was long ago introduced into the United Kingdom and northern Europe. It is also now found growing wild in Australia, Canada and the United States, China and Japan, New Zealand, southern Africa, and southern South America. In many regions, Wild Parsnip is now viewed as a weed of concern. In North America, it is predominantly found in the eastern part of the continent, but it is widely naturalized across the United States, colonizing old fields, railroad embankments, roadsides, and waste areas. Parsnip was introduced to North America shortly after European settlement as an important root crop. It subsequently escaped cultivation and naturalized as a less palatable ‘‘wild’’ form. Wild Parsnip grows best in rich, alkaline, moist soils, but can survive under poor soil conditions and under drought conditions (perhaps as a result of its deep tap root). (Vaughan and Geissler 1997; Menemen et al. 2001 and references therein; Averill and DiTommaso 2007 and references therein)

The cultivated form of Parsnip, which has a thicker and more succulent root, is grown in temperate regions all over the world. Its root is used as animal fodder or as a cooked vegetable (delicious simply broiled with a drizzle of olive oil!). Parsnip was cultivated in Roman times, but fleshy forms were not developed until the Middle Ages. The root contains around 6% starch and 6% sugar; exposure to frost supposedly increases the conversion of starch to sugar. Vitamin C content is 17 mg/100g. Parsnip has sometimes been used to make wine. (Vaughan and Geissler 1997)

The Parsnip plant has a characteristic smell; hollow, furrowed stems; and large, simple, pinnate leaves with ovate and toothed leaflets. The small yellow flowers are borne in an umbel that may be as much as 10 cm across. (Vaughan and Geissler 1997)

Parsnip contains furanocoumarins, which deter herbivores from eating its foliage. These compounds can also cause phytophotodermatitis in humans and livestock, a condition that results in patches of redness and blisters on the skin when they come into contact with the sap or ingest parts of the plant in the presence of sunlight. (Menemen et al. 2001)

Parsnip has been the subject of diverse studies investigating the chemical ecology and evolution of plant-herbivore interactions (Zanger et al. 2008 and references therein).

Averill and DiTommaso (2007) and Cain et al. (2010) reviewed the biology and ecology of this species.

Wild Parsnip is one of eight species and four subspecies in the genus Pastinaca, all of them native to Europe and Asia (Menemen et al. 2001 and references therein).

  • Gleason, H. A., and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada, 2nd edition. The New York Botanical Garden, New York.
  • Averill, K.M. and A. DiTommaso. 2007. Wild Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa): A Troublesome Species of Increasing Concern. Weed Technology 21(1): 279-287.
  • Cain, N., S.J. Darbyshire, A. Francis, R.E. Nurse, and M.-J. Simard. 2010. The Biology of Canadian weeds. 144. Pastinaca sativa L. Canadian Journal of Plant Science 90: 217-240.
  • Vaughan, J.G. and C.A. Geissler. 1997. The New Oxford Book of Food Plants (revised and updated edition). Oxford University Press, New York.
  • Zangerl, A.R., M.C. Stanley, and M.R. Berenbaum. 2008. Selection for chemical trait remixing in an invasive weed after reassociation with a coevolved specialist. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) 105(12): 4547-4552.
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Comprehensive Description

Comments

This is the wild form of the cultivated vegetable of the same name. Wild Parsnip can be distinguished from other members of the Carrot family by considering the following characteristics
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Description

This introduced biennial plant is 2-5' tall, branching occasionally. The stems are glabrous, angular, and furrowed. The alternate leaves are oddly pinnate, consisting of about 9 leaflets that are largely hairless. The lower compound leaves are up to 18" long and 6" across; they have long petioles. The upper compound leaves are substantially smaller; they have short petioles. The individual leaflets are up to 3" long, 2" across, and ovate or elliptic in outline; they often have cleft lobes and coarse teeth along the margins. The upper stems terminate in compound umbels of tiny yellow flowers. Each compound umbel has a long naked peduncle and spans about 3-8" across when fully mature; it is flat-topped. A compound umbel consists of about 15-25 umbellets, and each umbellet has about 12-35 flowers. Both floral bracts and floral bractlets are absent. Each flower is about 1/8" across, consisting of 5 yellow petals, a greenish yellow nectar pad, and insignificant sepals. The tiny petals are initially folded toward each other, but they eventually curve outward. The blooming period typically occurs from late spring to mid-summer and lasts about 1-2 months; a few plants may bloom later in the year. Each flower is replaced by a schizocarp containing a single seed. The seeds are flattened and winged; they are blown about by the wind. The root system consists of a stout fleshy taproot with a distinctive aroma that is quite similar to cultivated parsnips. This plant spreads by reseeding itself. Cultivation
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Miscellaneous Details

"Notes: Western Ghats, Cultivated, Native of Mediterranean Region"
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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Wild Parsnip is a common plant that occurs in every county of Illinois (see Distribution Map). It is relatively more common in central and northern Illinois than southern Illinois. Habitats include moist to mesic black soil prairies, savannas, pastures and fields, weedy meadows, areas along railroads and roadsides, vacant lots, and waste areas. Wild Parsnip can invade natural areas, especially prairies and savannas with fertile soil. It is native to Europe. Faunal Associations
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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Global Range: Found in open places along roadsides and in waste places throughout the northern United States and Canada, from British Columbia to California and Vermont south to Florida. It endures a wide range of edaphic conditions, usually dry to mesic soils, but occasionally will be found in wet meadows. Grows best on calcareous, alkaline soils.

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Tamil Nadu: Nilgiri
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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Plants stout, 1–1.6 m high. Root yellowish-brown, up to 30 × 10 cm, fleshy becoming fibrous with age. Basal petioles ca. 13 cm, sheathing; leaf blade oblong-ovate, 20–30 × 10–16 cm, pinnate; pinnae oblong to ovate, 5–8 × 2.4–4 cm. Peduncles stout, 5–12 cm; rays 10–30, 3–8(–10) cm, unequal; umbellules ca. 1 cm across, ca. 20-flowered; pedicels 5–10 mm, slender. Petals 1–1.2 × ca. 1 mm. Fruit 5–6 × 4–6 mm. Fl. and fr. Jun–Aug. n = 11.
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Diagnostic Description

Diagnostic

Habit: Herb
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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Wild Parsnip is a common plant that occurs in every county of Illinois (see Distribution Map). It is relatively more common in central and northern Illinois than southern Illinois. Habitats include moist to mesic black soil prairies, savannas, pastures and fields, weedy meadows, areas along railroads and roadsides, vacant lots, and waste areas. Wild Parsnip can invade natural areas, especially prairies and savannas with fertile soil. It is native to Europe. Faunal Associations
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Habitat & Distribution

Widely cultivated in China [generally thought to be native to Europe; widely cultivated].
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Associations

Flower-Visiting Insects of Wild Parsnip in Illinois

Pastinaca sativa (Wild Parsnip) introduced
(Bees suck nectar or collect pollen, other insects suck nectar; some observations are Graenicher and Krombein et al. as indicated below, otherwise they are from Robertson)

Bees (long-tongued)
Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera mellifera sn; Apidae (Bombini): Bombus griseocallis sn, Bombus impatiens sn, Bombus pensylvanica sn; Anthophoridae (Anthophorini): Anthophora abrupta sn; Anthophoridae (Ceratinini): Ceratina dupla dupla sn cp; Megachilidae (Megachilini): Megachile petulans sn

Bees (short-tongued)
Halictidae (Halictinae): Augochlorella striata sn, Halictus confusus sn, Halictus parallelus sn, Lasioglossum cinctipes sn, Lasioglossum forbesii sn, Lasioglossum imitatus sn cp fq, Lasioglossum pectoralis sn cp, Lasioglossum versatus sn cp; Halictidae (Sphecodini): Sphecodes clematidis sn, Sphecodes cressonii sn, Sphecodes dichroa sn fq; Colletidae (Colletinae): Colletes brevicornis sn (Rb, Kr), Colletes eulophi sn; Colletidae (Hylaeinae): Hylaeus affinis sn, Hylaeus illinoisensis sn, Hylaeus mesillae sn (Rb, Kr), Hylaeus modestus modestus sn; Andrenidae (Andreninae): Andrena crataegi sn, Andrena cressonii sn, Andrena forbesii (Kr), Andrena fragilis (Kr), Andrena heraclei (Kr), Andrena hippotes sn (Rb, Kr), Andrena imitatrix imitatrix (Kr), Andrena integra (Kr), Andrena miranda (Kr), Andrena nigrifrons sn, Andrena nuda sn cp (Rb, Kr), Andrena personata sn cp (Rb, Kr), Andrena pruni sn cp, Andrena quintilis (Kr), Andrena robertsonii sn (Rb, Kr), Andrena rugosa (Kr), Andrena spiraeana (Kr), Andrena wilmattae (Kr), Andrena ziziae cp olg (Kr)

Wasps
Sphecidae (Astatinae): Astata unicolor; Sphecidae (Bembicinae): Pseudoplisus phaleratus; Sphecidae (Crabroninae): Ectemnius atriceps, Ectemnius continuus, Ectemnius decemmaculatus, Ectemnius lapidarius, Ectemnius rufifemur, Ectemnius trifasciatus, Lestica confluentus fq, Notoglossa inornata, Oxybelus emarginatus, Oxybelus mexicanus, Oxybelus uniglumis; Sphecidae (Larrinae): Lyroda subita, Trypoxylon clavatus; Sphecidae (Philanthinae): Cerceris clypeata, Cerceris compacta, Cerceris fumipennis, Cerceris kennicottii, Philanthus gibbosus; Sphecidae (Sphecinae): Ammophila kennedyi, Ammophila nigricans, Chalybion californicus, Isodontia apicalis, Sceliphron caementaria, Sphex ichneumonea, Sphex pensylvanica; Tiphiidae: Myzinum quinquecincta, Tiphia vulgaris; Pompilidae: Anoplius americanus fq, Anoplius atrox, Anoplius illinoensis, Anoplius lepidus, Anoplius marginatus, Anoplius semirufus, Anoplius tenebrosus, Anoplius virginiensis, Ceropales maculata, Evagetes parvus, Poecilopompilus interrupta, Tachypompilus ferruginea; Mutillidae: Dasymutilla macra, Timulla vagans; Chrysididae: Chrysis nitidula, Hedychrum violaceum, Holopyga ventrale fq; Figitidae: Prosaspicera albihirta; Eucoilidae: Eucoila impatiens; Leucospididae: Leucospis affinis; Perilampidae: Euperilampus triangularis, Perilampus hyalinus, Perilampus platigaster; Encyritidae: Pachyneuron mesograptae (Rb, F&I); Scelionidae: Teleas lineaticeps; Evaniidae: Hyptia reticulata; Gasteruptiidae: Gasteruption assectator, Gasterion tarsatorius; Ichneumonidae: Apophua simplicipes, Colpognathus helvus, Eiphosoma dentator, Eutanyacra succinctus, Ichneumon ambulatorius, Idiolispa analis, Isdromas lycaenae, Tersilochus conotracheli, Trogus pennator, Trychosis subgracilis, Tryphon seminiger; Braconidae: Cardiochiles tibiator, Crassomicrodus divisus, Habrobracon gelechiae, Microplites gortynae, Peristenus pallipes, Vipio rugator; Vespidae: Dolichovespula maculata, Polistes fuscata; Vespidae (Eumeninae): Ancistrocerus adiabatus, Ancistrocerus campestris, Ancistrocerus unifasciatus, Eumenes fraterna, Euodynerus foraminatus fq, Leionotus scrophulariae (Rb, MS), Leionotus ziziae (Rb, MS), Monobia quadridens, Parancistrocerus fulvipes, Symmorphus albomarginatus, Symmorphus canadensis, Zethus spinipes

Sawflies
Argidae: Arge humeralis

Flies
Sciaridae: Sciara atrata, Sciara vulgaris; Mycetophilidae: Epicypta scatophora; Tabanidae: Chrysops striatus, Hybomitra illotus; Stratiomyidae: Allognosta fuscitarsis, Stratiomys meigenii; Syrphidae: Allographta obliqua fq, Dasysyrphus venustus, Didea fuscipes, Eristalinus aeneus, Eristalis dimidiatus, Eristalis flavipes, Eristalis transversus, Helophilus fasciatus, Helophilus latifrons, Mallota bautias, Ocyptamus fascipennis, Ocyptamus fuscipennis, Orthonevra nitida icp, Paragus bicolor, Paragus tibialis, Parhelophilus laetus (Gr), Pipiza femoralis, Platycheirus hyperboreus, Platycheirus quadratus, Sphaerophoria contiqua, Syritta pipiens fq, Syrphus ribesii, Toxomerus geminatus, Toxomerus marginatus fq, Trichopsomyia apisaon, Trichopsomyia banksi, Tropidia quadrata; Bombyliidae: Anthrax oedipus, Hemipenthes sinuosa, Villa alternata (Gr); Scenopinidae: Scenopinus nubillipes; Empididae: Empis clausa, Empis distans; Conopidae: Myopa vesiculosa, Physoconops brachyrhynchus, Zodion americanum; Tachinidae: Belvosia unifasciata fq, Chetogena claripennis, Chaetoplagia atripennis, Copecrypta ruficauda, Cryptomeigenia illinoiensis, Cryptomeigenia theutis, Cylindromyia euchenor, Distichona varia, Euclyptia flava, Eumea caesar, Exorista mella, Gnadochaeta globosa, Gymnoclytia occidua, Gymnosoma fuliginosum, Leschenaultia leucophrys, Lespesia aletiae, Lespesia frenchii, Linnaemya comta fq, Masicera inquinata, Paradidyma conica, Phasia purpurascens, Spallanzania hesperidarum, Trichopoda pennipes fq, Uramya pristis, Winthemia quadripustulata fq, Xanthomelanodes arcuatus; Sarcophagidae: Amobia aurifrons, Amobia floridensis, Blaesoxipha alcedo, Blaesoxipha hunteri, Euaraba tergata, Gymnoprosopa polita, Helicobia rapax, Ravinia anxia, Ravinia derelicta, Ravinia stimulans, Sarcophaga sinuata, Senotainia rubriventris, Sphixapata trilineata; Calliphoridae: Calliphora splendida, Calliphora vicina, Cochliomyia macellaria fq, Lucilia illustris, Phormia regina; Muscidae: Graphomya americana, Helina rufitibia, Limnophora narona, Morellia micans fq, Musca domestica, Myospila meditabunda, Neomyia cornicina; Anthomyiidae: Anthomyia leucostoma, Calythea nigricans; Fanniidae: Fannia manicata; Otitidae: Delphinia picta, Seioptera colon; Platystomatidae: Rivellia viridulans; Lauxaniidae: Camptoprosopella vulgaris; Sepsidae: Sepsis violacea; Chloropidae: Chlorops proximus, Homaluroides mellea, Liohippelates flavipes, Liohippelates pusio, Meromyza americana, Rhopalopterum soror, Thaumatomyia glabra; Milichiidae: Lobioptera indecora

Butterflies
Nymphalidae: Danaus plexippus, Libytheana carinenta, Limenitis arthemis astyanax; Lycaenidae: Celastrina argiolus, Lycaena hyllus, Satyrium calanus

Skippers
Hesperiidae: Polites themistocles

Moths
Sesiidae: Synanthedon pictipes; Zygaenidae: Harrisina americana

Beetles
Buprestidae: Agrilus difficilis, Agrilus egenus; Cantharidae: Chauliognathus marginatus, Podabrus rugosulus, Podabrus tomentosus, Rhagonycha dichrous; Cerambycidae: Callimoxys sanguinicollis, Euderces picipes, Metacmaeops vittata, Typocerus sinuatus, Typocerus vulutina; Chrysomelidae: Acalymma vittata, Anomoea laticlavia, Pachybrachis infaustus, Trirhabda tomentosa; Coccinellidae: Coccinella novemnotata, Coleomegilla maculata, Cycloneda sanguinea, Hippodamia convergens, Hippodamia parenthesis; Dermestidae: Anthrenus muscorum, Attagenus megatoma fq, Cryptorhopalum haemorrhoidalis; Elateridae: Agriotes insanus; Lampyridae: Photinus pyralis, Pyractonema angulata; Lycidae: Calopteron reticulatus; Melandryidae: Osphya varians; Meloidae: Epicauta cinereus, Epicauta murina; Melyridae: Attalus terminalis, Malachius erichsonii; Mordellidae: Hoshihananomia octopunctata, Mordella marginata, Mordella melaena, Mordellistena ornata; Nitulidae: Carpophilus brachypterus; Scarabaeidae: Euphoria fulgida, Euphoria sepulcralis, Trichiotinus piger; Scraptiidae: Pentaria trifasciatus

Plant Bugs
Lygaeidae: Lygaeus turcicus; Miridae: Lygus lineolaris, Plagiognathus obscurus, Taedia scrupeus; Rhopalidae: Arhyssus lateralis; Thyreocoridae: Corimelaena pulicarius fq

Neuroptera
Chrysopidae: Chrysoperla plorabunda prd

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Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Chromelosporium anamorph of Chromelosporium ochraceum is saprobic on dead stem of Pastinaca sativa

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / parasite
cleistothecium of Erysiphe heraclei parasitises live Pastinaca sativa

Foodplant / miner
larva of Euleia heraclei mines live leaf of Pastinaca sativa

Foodplant / open feeder
Hypera pastinacae grazes on leaf of Pastinaca sativa

Foodplant / parasite
mycelium of Itersonilia pastinacae parasitises live leaf of Pastinaca sativa

Plant / resting place / within
ovum of Melanagromyza angeliciphaga may be found in hollow stem of Pastinaca sativa
Other: minor host/prey

Plant / resting place / within
puparium of Melanagromyza sativae may be found in stem of Pastinaca sativa
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / pathogen
amphigenous colony of Mycocentrospora anamorph of Mycocentrospora acerina infects and damages live leaf of Pastinaca sativa
Remarks: captive: in captivity, culture, or experimentally induced

Foodplant / open feeder
larva of Phaedon tumidulus grazes on live leaf of Pastinaca sativa
Remarks: season: -late 8
Other: uncertain

Foodplant / feeds on
pycnidium of Phomopsis coelomycetous anamorph of Phomopsis diachenii feeds on fruit of Pastinaca sativa

Foodplant / miner
larva of Phytomyza spondylii mines leaf of Pastinaca sativa

Foodplant / parasite
hypophyllous colony of sporangium of Plasmopara crustosa parasitises live leaf of Pastinaca sativa

Foodplant / spot causer
colony of Pseudocercosporella anamorph of Pseudocercosporella pastinacae causes spots on live leaf of Pastinaca sativa

Foodplant / saprobe
erumpent apothecium of Pyrenopeziza pastinacae is saprobic on dead, decorticate, overwintered, patchily greyish stem of Pastinaca sativa
Remarks: season: 5-7
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / spot causer
amphigenous, in small scattered groups colony of Ramularia hyphomycetous anamorph of Ramularia heraclei causes spots on live leaf of Pastinaca sativa

Foodplant / saprobe
superficial colony of Sarcopodium dematiaceous anamorph of Sarcopodium circinatum is saprobic on dead stem of Pastinaca sativa

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General Ecology

The lepidopteran Depressaria pastinacella (parsnip webworm) is the dominant herbivore on Pastinaca (Gorder and Mertens 1984, Thompson 1978). The adult webworm lays eggs on unopened umbels from mid-May to early June. The larva then builds a web on the umbel and feeds on the flowers and developing seeds. The mature larva bores into a large stem at the base of the plant to pupate over winter, and the adults emerge the following July (Gorder and Mertens 1984).

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Life History and Behavior

Reproduction

The following life history information is from Baskin and Baskin (1979). Seedlings emerge from February through April, form rosettes and grow vegetatively for one or more years before they form an aerial shoot ("bolt") and flower. During vegetative growth the plant continuously produces and loses leaves; over winter the above ground tissues dies back leaving only one or two partially expanded leaves on each plant. Rosettes must reach a critical size before vernalization will effect flowering. Flowering occurs from mid-May to mid-June and seeds are mature by early July. The primary umbel on the main stem begins to develop and produce seed one to two weeks before the secondary umbels on lateral branches. The plant dies as the seeds mature, leaving the dead shoot standing through the winter. Seed dispersal normally occurs in autumn through late November, but many areas with P. sativa are mowed in late summer and seeds are often released as the shoots are cut. Newly mature seeds are inhibited from germination by summer temperatures. Stratification over winter increases germination ability and seeds germinate in early spring. Seedling mortality is high with less than 1% of newly emerged seedlings surviving to reproduce.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Pastinaca sativa

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Pastinaca sativa

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 9
Specimens with Barcodes: 17
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

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Management

Management Requirements: Wild parsnip can become abundant along roadsides that are regularly mowed as mowing seems to encourage the production of flowering plants. If mowing occurs too early (in June or early July), the plants may resprout and still have time to flower and set seed; if too late in July, the primary umbel may have mature seeds that will germinate after cutting. Mowing also stresses other species that have the potential to be good competitors against parsnip, such as Solidago spp. Kline (1986) tested annual mowing of parsnip in July before seed set over a six- year period and observed increases in the abundance of flowering plants in the mowed plots, but a steady decline in parsnip density in the unmowed control plot. The common goldenrod, Solidago altissima, was abundant in all plots at the start of the experiment. The July mowing reduced density, height, and flowering of the goldenrod, allowing more sunlight to reach immature parsnip seedlings. The steady decline in parsnip density in the unmowed plot suggested that in situations where other plants are able to offer competition, the best parsnip control measure is to do nothing (Kline 1986).

Where P. sativa occurs on a recovering prairie, the best treatment may be to simply encourage good prairie growth. For example, prescribed burning encourages the growth of native grasses, which in turn outcompete and eventually displace the wild parsnip (Kline 1987).

For small patches, weeding with a shovel is the best control measure. Flowering plants should be chopped off just below ground level before seed set. Care should be taken to avoid contact with the plant tissues. Wear gloves, long pants, and sleeves. Since the plants do not all flower at once, the area should be rechecked several weeks after the first cutting. The vegetative rosettes can also be dug up if enough labor is available, otherwise, the area should be revisited the following year to remove any newly flowering plants.

Burning removes litter and taller plants allowing parsnip rosettes to develop rapidly. When present, wild parsnip rosettes are among the first plants to green up after an early spring burn and they become easy to detect and dig up with a shovel.

The parsnip webworm damages some individual plants severely, but is not known to devastate whole patches and is not likely to be useful as a biocontrol agent (Martin 1987).

Management Programs: The following individuals are familiar with wild parsnip. Control is achieved mainly by hand-pulling.

Virginia Kline, University of Wisconsin Arboretum, 1207 Seminole Hwy., Madison, WI 53711. 608-263-7344.

Mark Martin, Natural Areas Management Specialist, Wisconsin DNR, Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707. 608-266-8916.

Management Research Needs: Research is not considered a priority since parsnip does not invade high quality natural areas.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Risks

Stewardship Overview: Pastinaca sativa can be controlled by hand-digging along paths, roadsides, and other bare areas, and prairie edges. Flowering plants should be chopped off below the ground before seed set. Where it occurs on recovering prairies the best management may be simply to encourage good prairie growth. After a spring burn, parsnip is among the first plants to emerge and may be easily detected and dug out to control abundance along prairie edges. Mowing decreases competitive ability of companion species and increases density of flowering parsnip stems.

Species Impact: Pastinaca sativa invades disturbed bare areas, especially those with calcareous soils. It is an undesirable exotic weed and produces a compound that causes severe blistering and discoloration on contact with the skin on sunny days, a condition known as photodermatitis. In infested areas it regularly occurs along paths and roadsides where eradication is desirable from a human safety as well as ecological standpoint. Well-established prairies are not likely to be invaded by parsnip, but it can become quite abundant on prairie edges and in disturbed patches within otherwise high quality prairies. It is also highly persistent on sites that remain disturbed or bare such as rocky areas, paths, or roadsides.

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The root is rich in starch and sugar and is used as food (parsnip), animal fodder, and for wine making. The sap is liable to cause skin irritation by sensitizing skin to UV radiation.
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

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